When I was in the 10th grade I ran for student council president. I was living in Nevada at the time. I went to a high school in a small town called Jackpot. I didn’t win the election but I was given the role by default as nobody else ran against me.
This was my first taste of politics on a personal level. I have been politically involved in one form or another ever since. In some cases I am an activist pushing for changes to better our society. In other instances I am merely a voter exercising my right to vote. In yet a handful of cases I have been able to influence or inform public opinion through my work as a journalist. No matter what role I played there were a handful of political figures during my lifetime that stood out. U.S. Senator from Nevada Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader for a large portion of my early adult life, was one of those staples.
Despite the red/blue divide in our country Reid was quite popular in the very red state of Nevada. I call it a red state despite it having some blue leanings in regards to individual liberties but all in all Nevadans tend to vote overwhelmingly Republican, save in presidential elections where it’s a tried and true swing state.
I shant write an essay on the impact Reid had on my home state. I’d dare not attempt to butcher such a recollection of his trials and triumphs. Rather I’d mention that when I was a teenager I read a lot of newspapers. I watched a lot of C-Span, CNN and Bloomberg TV because I had a strong interest in the political affairs of this great nation of ours. Senator Reid was among those figures who’s name and words were a constant of those political endeavors at the time. As such he became a regular figure on my television set. More so to me than a Kardashian or Paris Hilton would for most others of my generation. To say I spent many of my evenings with Senator Reid would be an understatement. I had the pleasure of voting for him more than once in my lifetime.
Among his many political accomplishments was his ability to get the Affordable Care Act passed into law at a time doing so depleted all of his remaining political capital. As an under paid working class citizen who has depended upon the ACA healthcare exchange to provide me with health insurance since it’s inception I am eternally grateful of the sacrifices he made in order to see that legislation become the law of the land. I was even honored to vote for President Barack Obama in 2012 following the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the ACA as the law of the land.
While Harry Reid became the target of conservative commentators he remained a champion for Nevadans, red and blue alike, while he stood up to the GOP at nearly every turn. I can’t under state how important he was to my developing interest in the politics of the United States and her allies. If not for his constant television appearances I might not have understood the scope of our Federalist Republican Democracy as well as I currently do. It was a lesson in how deeply red Republicans who agree with the GOP on a national level would send a stanchly blue stalwart to represent our state in the Senate as a reminder of how federalism works in practice.
More than a hero of our democracy, more than a champion of our republic, more than a symbol of that federalism, he was above all a public servant. He shall be missed while his legacy lives on. Rest In Peace good sir.